publishing on demand

eBook Observer – Diffusion categories

Now that I’ve had the chance to examine some of the eBook projects in greater detail, I thought I’d turn to an examination of the Diffusion website. To do this, I could provide you with a summary what is available on the Diffusion website and its history. Instead, I’ve found that the group of Proboscis related websites that include , , and already have a good deal of information about these things already tucked away in all sorts of different sections of these websites.  For example, as I tried to get an idea of Diffusion as both a project and a website, I began searching through the various pages where information about Diffusion was available, here’s what material I found:

Proboscis contributors like Karen Martin and Hazem Tagiuri also occasionally revisit Diffusion as an archive of previous projects:

Now, some of you might now be thinking (sarcastically): “Wow, Fred, you’ve discovered the World Wide Web… Congratulations!”.  What this little search for information got me thinking about was how these websites operate as a database (à la Lev Manovich) that is used in part to define the eBook as a cultural form. So rather than spend too much time on the history of, I want to look at how the site is itself used to classify eBooks. This may sound like a particularly dull thing to do, but I think that it is essential since it can not only give us an insight into how the eBook has been developed as a creative tool but also how Proboscis disseminates information about the eBook (which is tied directly to my own research interests). is “powered” by WordPress. Using the blog post format, Proboscis give each of the eBooks they want to profile a “post”, making it easy to sort in various categories that can be defined using the WordPress system. These different categories can found under the website’s Library tab.

The first set of WordPress categories used to sort eBooks on the Diffusion website is “Sharable Form”. It seems I was wrong in a previous post when I wrote that Proboscis didn’t make the distinction between capture and publication. At least on some level, Diffusion presents a classificatory distinction between what they refer to as “eBooks” and ”eNotebooks” – the former designates any kind of publication using the eBook format while the latter specifically designates eBook designs for information capture. I’m still going to keep my own categories, partly for convenience but also because some of the material used to capture information with eBooks isn’t presented on the Diffusion website. As of today, there are 428 eBooks on the Diffusion website, of which 37 are also classified as eNotebooks.

The next way in which the eBooks are categorised is through authors. As of today, there are 138 authors listed on It’s interesting to note that the recent series of Pitch In and Publish (for example) involves testing ways to publish collaboratively using multiple authors.

Some of the eBooks are also subdivided into Series. There are 16 different series online including Dodolab (18), Topographies & Tales (11), and Performance Notations (12). The last category that is also included is sorting by date. Based on this preliminary examination of it seems the eBooks are classified in a fairly straightforward way. There doesn’t seem to be any qualitative judgment about the different eBook iterations. They are mostly just categorised in fairly conventional ways so as to be easily retraced –name, author, date, and related project. The one initial insight that I’ve found significant is this distinction between the eBooks and the sub-category of eNotebooks. As a next step in examining, I will start to take a closer look at the eNotebooks.